The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider a motion by Supervisor Kathryn Barger to immediately address social worker needs in the Antelope Valley, including explore salary options to reduce vacancies, and designate and fill a permanent, full-time Deputy Director position dedicated to the Antelope Valley.
Barger’s motion comes a week after the Board approved another Barger motion at the July 16 meeting, which directed the Chief Executive Officer and Department of Children and Family Services to review staffing and resources available in the Antelope Valley offices.
Both motions come after four-year-old Noah Cuatro of Palmdale died July 6 under what authorities deemed suspicious circumstances while in the custody of his parents.
Noah’s death follows the deaths of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos of Lancaster in June 2018 and eight-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale in May 2013. Anthony and Gabriel were found to have suffered severe abuse in cases that raised questions about the effectiveness of DCFS personnel and policies.
According to Barger’s motion the Office of Child Protection reviewed staffing levels in the DCFS Antelope Valley regional offices as part of a review of the Anthony Avalos case.
The Office of Child Protection reported on Aug. 10 that “attrition in the Antelope Valley remains a significant challenge and is among the highest in DCFS.”
A May California State Auditor report also identified staffing needs in the The Antelope Valley Department of Children and Family Services as an important issue
The average length of service department-wide for an L.A. County DCFS children’s social worker is 6.1 years. The average length of service for the Lancaster office is 4.8 years, and 3.9 years for the Palmdale office.
The state audit also found that the supervisor-to-staff ratio in the Palmdale DCFS office remains one supervisor to 7.3 staff, which is higher than what the union agreement allows of one supervisor to six staff.
“There is also a need for high-level tenured supervisors overseeing the Antelope Valley regional offices. Having supervisory staff with a long length of service is imperative to provide the needed leadership and oversight of the regional offices. Increasing supervision will allow for additional oversight of cases and staff and focus needed resources to this region,” Barger’s motion said.
In addition, the motion said the Department of Children and Family Services “should review all available financial incentives and other creative ideas to ensure the staffing ratios in the Palmdale and Lancaster offices are decreased.”
Barger’s motion also calls for DCFS to work with the Department of Human Resources “to launch a strong and sustainable plan for recruiting and hiring local talent in the Antelope Valley, including licensed social workers.
“Streamlined recruitment and career pathway programs geared to fill chronically hard to fill DCFS positions in the Antelope Valley should be explored by partnering with local academic institutions to address this issue over the long term, including tuition forgiveness for students in the Antelope Valley pursuing requisite degrees.”
The Board of Supervisors will meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in Board Hearing Room 381B in the Kenneth Hahn Hall Of Administration, 500 West Temple Street, Los Angeles.